Louis van Gaal and Manchester United again find themselves strongly linked to a deal for Juventus midfield talisman Arturo Vidal. Reports in Italy suggest the player is available and that his agent is stepping up talks with the Red Devils.
However, the Vidal move, along with the proposed signing of Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen, have been called into question following Van Gaal's latest comments. The Dutch coach recently appeared to suggest his rebuilding squad doesn't need any more new faces.
However, he might make room for a young player as talented as countryman Memphis Depay.
Here's a more in-depth look at the latest rumours, beginning with the long-standing pursuit of Vidal.
Verbal Agreement For Vidal In Place, Agent Working To Complete Move
A report from Gianluca Oddenino of Turin publication La Stampa (h/t Sport Witness), has suggested that Vidal wants to leave Juventus. The same report also indicated that the player's agent, Fernando Felicevich, will inform the Serie A club of his client's wishes and begin finalising his move to Old Trafford.
However, Sport Witness offered compelling reasons to be dubious about this report:
However, the same Italian newspaper insisted not so long ago that Manchester United were making a bid for Alexis Sanchez and that Liverpool and Tottenham were also providing competition for Juventus. Arsenal weren't mentioned as interested, Sanchez signed for them four days later.
Whilst this isn't to rubbish La Stampa, they seem pretty good to us, it just shows that there's absolutely no reason to treat what they have to say as gospel, even if Manchester United fans would dearly love to.
Reports from Chilean outlet El Mercurio (h/t Daily Star writer Nick Lustig) went a step further:
Chilean newspaper El Mercurio claimed earlier this week that Vidal has already verbally agreed to join United, who will smash their transfer record by stumping up £47m to bring him to the club.
It is also understood United have tabled a four-year £120,000-a-week deal, which will double the 27-year-old's current salary.
Vidal's representative, Fernando Felicevich, held crunch talks with Juventus on Monday and demanded they match United's lucrative offer or let the Chile World Cup star leave.
As much as Vidal obviously makes sense for United, this rumour is in serious danger of becoming tedious. One or both parties have to make a definite move.
If there is chance of landing Vidal, United should take it. The club has gone too long without a genuine dynamo in midfield.
That hasn't always prevented the Red Devils from lifting trophies, but now that the club is in rebuild mode, a natural force in the middle is a necessity.
Vidal fits the bill as that player. His scoring touch, energy, tenacity, natural flair and versatility would be perfect in Van Gaal's 3-5-2 formation. Vidal could form a brilliant central partnership with Basque playmaker Ander Herrera.
Alternatively, he could even play a little further forward, behind the two strikers. That's a role he operated in for Chile at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Vidal is a great potential fit for United, assuming Van Gaal is not already satisfied with his current options.
Van Gaal Casts Doubt On Vermaelen and Vidal Deals
In news unlikely to please many United supporters, Van Gaal appeared to raise doubts over further transfer business. The comments came in an interview given on the club's tour in the USA, via Manchester Evening News reporter Rob Dawson:
I have said that I want to see first the players I have, and give them an honest chance. We still have a month to go.
We are winning everything. Maybe we don't need other players.
Of course, few managers are ever completely honest about their true intentions in a transfer window. That's just smart practice.
However, there's reason to believe Van Gaal's words could have implications for any deals involving Vidal and Vermaelen. In Vidal's case, his words are almost understandable.
While Vidal is a terrific talent, United have a lot of options in midfield. Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverley, Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata join Herrera to give Van Gaal a lot of choices.
However, quantity doesn't always imply quality. It certainly doesn't in this case. With the exception of Mata, few would argue Vidal wouldn't be a major upgrade over the rest of United's options.
Pulling out of a deal for Vermaelen would be more puzzling, purely from the perspective that United need defenders. Veterans Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have left the club, while young players such as Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have struggled with injuries.
If Van Gaal wants to make a three centre-back system work, then he must add to his ranks at this position. Vermaelen has been a mooted target.
Those rumours were lent weight when Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confirmed the Belgian stopper could leave this summer, per Jamie Jackson of The Guardian.
Whether Vermaelen is good enough to shore up the United defence is a matter for debate. But at this point, Van Gaal's squad needs bodies at the back.
Depay Still Keen
One player who may change Van Gaal's mind on transfers is young Netherlands attacker Depay. The 20-year-old PSV Eindhoven ace is considering his future amid United interest, per De Telegraaf (h/t Daily Express reporter Charles Perrin):
I am enjoying myself at PSV, but if nice clubs from big leagues make an approach, I will of course think about it.
There is plenty of interest, but staying at PSV is definitely an option.
I understand that the fans wants me to play well this season in Eindhoven. I see so many kids with my name on their shirt.
It's not the strongest hint of a move from a player, but there is plenty to recommend Depay to United. Van Gaal loves to unleash pace from wide areas.
Depay has that quality in abundance. He's a roving winger who delivered some impressive cameos for Van Gaal at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
As a young talent on the rise, Depay would certainly be an upgrade over the likes of Nani, Wilfried Zaha and Antonio Valencia.
United's latest transfer rumours show a club still searching for answers ahead of the new season. Van Gaal must at least prove United are again a force to be reckoned with among the Premier League's elite.
That will demand more new faces, with a marquee arrival like Vidal making the most sense as the proverbial statement of intent.
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